in death...

  1. 413 Posts.
    In Death...
    by Paula R. Stern
    Nov 11, '04

    In death, many feel they cannot say what they would have said while the person yet lived. "Don't speak ill of the dead" is a universal custom and one that is difficult to transcend. The long and drawn-out death of Yasser Arafat afforded Israel the opportunity to remind people of a life that was dedicated to violence, terror and hatred. It brought back the memories of the Munich Olympics, the murdered school children in Ma'a lot and the more recent attacks that continue to plague us.

    The words of incitement, the corruption, the embezzlement were opened to the world yet again. The obscenity of Suha Arafat living on $100,000 a month while the average Palestinian lives on $2.00 per day and Suha's quest, even before they buried her husband, to get a list of his assets. The use of Palestinian children, as young as eleven years old, to carry explosives, the obscenity of hiding explosives in ambulances. All speak of the darkness that was in that man's soul.

    Arafat was a man who hated more than he loved, who incited hundreds to commit suicide and take as many innocents with him as he could. He asked for a martyr's death, but died in a prolonged illness, strung out by artificial machines and plagued by bickering relatives and cronies who argued over power and money until his last heartbeat. Were it any other person, I would likely pity the long drawn out period of his dying and the planning of the funeral even before he'd taken his last breath.

    Mindful of the way that Palestinians celebrated the deaths of hundreds of Israelis in terrorist attacks, and of thousands on September 11, I will not smile and celebrate and hand out candies. I will not let my children cheer and celebrate. I will not march in the streets and shoot guns in the air, but I will not lie and change history. Arafat died as he lived. His heart's last beat didn't miraculously change a terrorist into a leader, an evil murderer into a compassionate man.

    As death approached, many Christians, such as President George Bush, wanted to fall back to their religion and offer the generous prayer, "May God bless his soul." This is a praiseworthy tradition, one steeped in compassion and hope and love. The problem is that Arafat was not a man of compassion, hope or love. His life was dedicated to causing death, his dreams focused on destruction, his prayers filled with hatred and incitement.

    For Jews, the concept of blessing a soul is foreign. We bless someone's memory and leave it to God to bless or condemn their soul. Upon hearing of the death of an individual, our first words are "Baruch Dayan Emet" – Blessed is the true Judge. We believe that the final judgment is one that we cannot make, because we do not know all the facts and so we simply ask for a true judgment. This, Yasser Arafat will receive.

    No matter how big the space in which Arafat will be judged, I doubt there will be enough space for all his murdered victims. Does each have the right to speak a few words, of the life he stole from them, the family that still mourns their loss? How can a soul that was stolen as a child speak? Will Tali Hatuel, who was eight-months pregnant when she was murdered by Palestinian terrorists, have a chance to speak for each of her four children and for the fifth that she carried with her to her grave? Will Tsvi have a chance to speak about being murdered the day after his son's wedding?

    The world will focus today and tomorrow on the Palestinian people, on their future, on what Arafat dreamed they would have. But I believe the eyes of heaven will be turned to those who can no longer dream because Arafat tried to build a nation on the foundations of death, terror, murder and corruption. Such a building cannot stand, because the base is poison and so all that he did was simply prolong the suffering of millions in many countries.

    Unlike George Bush, I am not a Christian and I cannot find it in my heart to forgive this man. I am happy that my religion does not ask this of me. I do not have to forgive him because he never asked for forgiveness. To his last coherent thought, he prayed for shahada, martyrdom, and to his dying day, he supported and financed terrorists.

    But I do pray, and I will share my prayers at this time, as Yasser Arafat, head of the Palestine Liberation Organization until the end, is buried.

    May those who mourn his death do so peacefully and not in violence.

    May the hatred that marked his life be buried with him.

    May those who think that violence and terrorism is the answer end up as alone and unfulfilled as he was.

    May those who come after him learn from his mistakes and may they love their people more than they hate others.

    May a true father of the Palestinian people arise - such that he will love his children and not encourage them to commit violence.

    May he be remembered in truth, for what he was and what he did and what he said, not what people wished he'd done, or wished he'd said, or wished he was.

    And may God have mercy on the souls of those he murdered, whether by his own hand, by his command or by his money, and may their loved ones find peace.

    Baruch Dayan Emet.
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